Written by John Plestina
The Wolf Point City Council was informed Monday, Aug. 18, that a new bidding process for the Wolf Point Village apartment complex will soon begin and that a groundbreaking could still be held this year.
The project appeared to be going forward on schedule when the council approved a call for construction bids for the planned 24-unit rental complex, Wednesday, July 2, but the council rejected high bids earlier this month, nixing a groundbreaking planned for Friday, Aug. 15, and changing the timeline for the entire process that includes bidding, groundbreaking and construction.
The re-bidding process will begin this week with bids due Tuesday, Sept. 23, Great Northern Development Corporation housing specialist and marketing officer Brianna Vine told the council.
“Hopefully we will be able to break ground before the snow flies,” Vine said.
Bids received by the July 31 deadline of the first call for bids were in the $4- to $5-million range, far exceeding what had been anticipated.
The city received a $750,000 HOME grant through the Montana Department of Commerce.
Great Northern Development Corporation is project manager for the city.
Plans are to build four one-bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units. Rent will range from $354 to $767 monthly. The apartments will include energy efficient air conditioning, heating and appliances and single-car garages. The complex will include common area with barbecue, gazebo, computer learning center and library.
Written by Herald-News
Elected officials are entrusted with representing the voters and doing what is in the best interest of county taxpayers. This includes the best use of discretionary funds to benefit all county residents/taxpayers. Resolution 2015-4 used Oil Severance Tax money to raise almost all county employees by $300 per month/$1.73 per hour/$3,600 per year or totally about $360,000 county-wide. This resolution specifically states this stipend is for help with temporary housing during peak oil production in the County. Only county employees get this monetary benefit. I find it very hard to believe that all county employees are having difficulty finding housing, but I wouldn’t turn down a salary increase if I was handed one either.
What about the rest of the taxpayers in Roosevelt County? Are they not in the same situation as county employees? Shouldn’t this money benefit all taxpayers in the county, not just a privileged few?
The compensation board is being convened to consider giving this stipend to elected officials. How can any one of the elected officials justify needing more money for housing assistance? The salaries they are receiving seem adequate. They range from $109,272.40 year/$52.53 hr. to $61,218.80 year/ $29.43 hr. This includes the $9,718.80 they receive yearly for health insurance. In addition to this, they get an additional 8.17 percent of their gross salary paid into each of their retirement funds.
Why can’t the rest of the county taxpayers get some assistance with this “extra” money? I have talked to business owners and they have the same problem recruiting and retaining employees but they can’t just give everyone a raise. They have no pot of gold. Maybe a tax rebate to taxpayers might be a better solution so everyone can get a piece of the pie.
This Oil Severance Tax money should be used to reduce taxes or fix infrastructure that need addressing. I have tried for the last five years to get one mile of road adequately repaired, it has never happened. No money, no people, no equipment, no materials! I was told years ago that there was going to be a fund set up to address the repairs, but this has never happened.
The taxpayers have been asked to increase taxes to provide more sheriff’s deputies. Now the commissioners want more money to fund a new jail. Also, there is concern that the tax base may be lowered because of the Cobell buyback program. Would it not be a better use of this money to save it for upcoming expenses or fixing current needs rather than giving the privileged few a raise?
Bill Juve, Taxpayer
(Editor’s Note: The above letter was presented at the compensation board meeting to the board members and reprinted here by request of Bill Juve.)
Written by John Plestina
A Michigan couple, accused of attempting to obtain narcotics by deception, entered not guilty pleas in 15th District Court Wednesday, Aug. 13.
Jesse Gottschalk and Shelby Rider, both 22, and both of Algonac, Mich., are alleged to have attempted to obtain drugs from Roosevelt Medical Center in Culbertson by making false claims.
Both are charged with felony possession of dangerous drugs, attempting to fraudulently obtain dangerous drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Both are scheduled for trials Nov. 13.
Defense attorneys Mark Epperson, representing Rider, and Mary Louise Zemyan, resenting Gottschalk, requested bail reductions from $50,000 to $10,000. Assistant county attorney Jordan Knudsen opposed the reductions. Judge David Cybulski reduced bond to $20,000 for each. They also must waive extradition if freed on bond.
Epperson said Rider’s father recently bought a home in North Dakota and that she could live with him while awaiting trial.
According to information provided by the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Rider’s father is alleged to have provided and sold illegal prescription drugs to his daughter and Gottschalk.
The RCSO reported Monday, Aug. 18, that Rider was free on bond.
The RCSO provided The Herald-News with a written report by Deputy Patrick O’Connor, the arresting officer.
An RMC staff member had reported suspicious behavior by Gottschalk and Rider and requested law enforcement on June 25 at about 5:30 p.m.
O’Connor wrote that a hospital employee told him Rider was claiming abdominal pain and wanted to be prescribed Percocet, the brand name for a pain medication containing oxycodone, which is classified as a schedule II dangerous drug.
“When Rider was told she needed to provide a urine sample, she covertly gave the specimen cup to Gottschalk, who took it into the bathroom and filled it with his own urine,” O’Connor wrote.
A hospital staff member observed Gottschalk with the specimen cup and took it from him.
O’Connor stated in his narrative that Gottschalk attempted to leave the hospital when he saw the deputy approach him. O’Connor handcuffed Gottschalk outside the emergency room entrance and informed him of his rights.
“Gottschalk admitted to urinating in Rider’s specimen cup and told me he did so because Rider was unable to provide a sample herself for some reason,” O’Connor wrote.
Rider was arrested shortly after on the hospital grounds.
O’Connor further wrote in his report that an RN told him the pair were behaving suspiciously “and he felt Rider was attempting to fraudulently obtain Percocet and Phenergan” [the brand name for promethazine, a non-controlled drug used to treat anxiety]. The nurse told O’Connor that Rider had complained of abdominal pain and specifically requested those drugs.
The sheriff’s report further alleges that that Rider attempted to obtain the same medications from a hospital in Crosby, N.D., a few weeks prior, also claiming abdominal pain. At that time she checked in using the name Melissa Gottschalk.
“When I asked Rider about the visit to the Crosby hospital, she admitted providing them with a false name and said she did so to avoid paying the hospital bill,” O’Connor wrote.
Rider gave O’Connor permission to look inside her purse, which was inside Gottschalk’s pickup.
“I discovered a pink plastic pen tube with white powdery residue on the inside. The residue was field tested later and indicated positive as oxycodone, the active ingredient in Percocet. Rider told me she used the pen to snort a crushed-up Percocet,” O’Connor wrote in his report.
Rider told O’Connor she has an addiction to Percocet and frequently abuses other prescription drugs, including Xanax.
“Rider said she’s been abusing prescription pills since her father began providing them to her when she was about 17 years old,” O’Connor wrote.
Gottschalk gave O’Connor permission to retrieve pills, which were wrapped in a cellophane wrapper from a cigarette pack, from the driver’s door pocket in his truck.
Later, at the sheriff’s office in Wolf Point, Gottschalk admitted to an addiction to Xanax and said he bought 10 Xanax pills from Rider’s father on June 24, according to the sheriff’s narrative.
The narrative also stated that Rider acknowledged that her father sold the pills to Gottschalk.
Written by John Plestina
Wolf Point Mayor Chris Dschaak told the city council Monday, Aug. 18, that he believes a contract is near with the Fort Peck Tribes for the Assiniboine and Sioux Rural Water System water pipeline project.
The $200 million ASRWSS, which is part of a larger water project that includes Dry Prairie Rural Water, is funded by a federal grant and $39.8 million was provided for the project in 2009.
Dschaak said the water treatment plant could become a logistical problem.
In other business, the council was told bidding for the Sherman Park gazebo ramp will begin soon.
In another matter, Dschaak commented about declining numbers on the Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department and said new members are needed. He was cautiously optimistic that four people have recently showed an interest.
Dschaak also said of longtime WPVFD member Terry Cody, who has moved to Butte, “Terry will be sorely missed. It will take 10 people to do what he did.”
Dschaak was referring to Cody’s years of service as a firefighter and to the Elks and the Knights of Columbus.
The council was informed that the fire hydrant flushing project is completed with two hydrants replaced and about 10 more to replace.
Written by Herald-News
Southside Elementary School held its annual back to school open house, Tuesday, Aug. 19. Students and parents got acquainted with teachers. Pictured are (from left to right) first-grade teacher Kelli Vine, Jovi Redstone, 7, and her mother Yvette Tootoosis. (Photo by John Plestina)